Historic Lovelace Bridges & towers

Lovelace bridges loop

Horsley, Surrey
9 .3 miles / 14.9 km

HIGHLIGHTS

Nine Lovelace Bridges I Horsley Towers I Guildford Lodge I Duke of Wellington Pub I  St Martin’s Church I Lovelace Mausolem  I Beautiful Woodland

Stony Dene Bridge

Introduction

This route is a Lord Lovelace extravaganza!  It covers the nine existing Lovelace bridges built by William King, 1st Earl of Lovelace in 1860s to facilitate the transport of timber across the hilly terrain of his private estate. There were originally 15 of them, but some have been removed or fallen into disrepair.

Following on, the route passes the “Lovelaced” Duke of Wellington pub, the original estate entrance Guilford Lodge, the family Mausoleum and then through the De Vere Estate to the Gothic Horsley Towers, his former home.

 

Directions overview

The route is initially along pavements and private residential roads, then wide woodland tracks. For a short while the route then follows an ancient packhorse trail, the Old London Road. After crossing the Guildford Road and walking for approx 10 minutes, there’s a slightly hidden sign to Pine Grove Bridge (now just earthen banks) followed by the first existing Lovelace bridge, Stony Dene. The almost entirely woodland paths are generally wide, well used and easy to follow. Dorking Arch spans Crockham North Road, which is busy with no pavement, so take care. On the return route, the double flint gatehouse entrance to the Horsley Estate is easy to spot. Don’t be put off by the barriers across the road, there is pedestrian access through the estates and out the other side on Pine Walk.

 

Route details

Start & End Horsley  Station South Western Railway trains
OS Route  WALKING POST Lovelace Bridges via Horsley Towers
Difficulty Easy
Length 9.3 miles / 14.9km
Average time 4 – 5 hours
Total ascent 914ft

Meadow Plat Bridge

Smallest of the bridges at under 6ft span, tucked away but fun.

Hermitage Bridge

This secluded large bridge over Sheepwalk lane is flint walled.

Troy Arch

Bridge in need of restoration, built with brick and flint, no parapets.

Raven Arch

This bridge may be named after a coat of arms heraldic device. It has been partially restored.

Briary Hill West Bridge

This is one of a pair..

Briary Hill East Bridge

Here’s the other one..

Dorking Arch

This is the largest bridge and spans Crocknorth Road. It has arrow slits in the parapets, always useful!

Robin Hood Bridge

A narrow horseshoe-shaped bridge. Origin of the name is unknown.

Lovelace Bridges

In the 1860s, the Earl of Lovelace had 15 bridges connected by gently graded tracks laid in the hilly woods of his estate so that timber could more easily be transported to his Epsom Road sawmill. The bridges are all made from local flint and brick and vary in size from just 6 feet to the 18 feet span of the Dorking Arch across Crocknorth Road. Only nine of the bridges remain intact.

Oldlands Bridge 2022
The tenth bridge – Oldlands – is on private land but is in such a state of disrepair that it can no longer be considered a proper Lovelace bridge  (by us anyway!)

Walking Post Lovelace Bridges Meadow plat bridge

Horsley Towers

Walking Post Lovelace Bridges Hermitage Bridge

Gatehouse to the De Vere Estate

Walking Post Lovelace Bridges Troy Arch

Oldlands Wood

Walking Post Lovelace Bridges Meadow plat bridge

Lovelace Mausoleum

Walking Post Lovelace Bridges Hermitage Bridge

The Duke of Wellington Pub

Walking Post Lovelace Bridges Troy Arch

Guildford Lodge

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WHY NOT TRY

By Car
See route on OS maps
Green Dene Car Park
East Horsley, Leatherhead KT24 5TA
Park here if you want to just see the bridges and skip Horsley Towers. Walk up Green Dene in the direction of Horsley and pick up the footpath at the junction with Honeysuckle Bottom to complete a loop of all the bridges in less than 5 miles.

Woodland Walks
Sheapleas, Effingham Forest and Oldlands Wood  are all connected and full of footpaths. This is a great place for a peaceful woodland walk, although it is fairly easy to get lost as there are so many routes to choose.

TRANSPORT

Horsley station has frequent trains to London Waterloo and Guildford.

TOILET OPPORTUNITIES

The station is very welcoming and equipped with toilets, a small library, outdoor table and chairs plus dog biscuits and water. After Horsley thats it, no more toilets!

FOOD AND DRINK

Near Horsley station on Ockham Road there is currently a tapas bar, Indian and Chinese restaurants, a bakery and a café.

The Duke of Wellington
Guildford Road, East Horsley, Leatherhead KT24 6AA
Grade II listed pub rebuilt by Charles Barry in the 18th Century and then redesigned by Lordlace to fit his amibitious plans to change Horsley from an ordinary Surrey village into a setting befitting his status. Well worth a visit.

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ALONG THE WAY

Lord Lovelace
William King, the 1st Earl of Lovelace, was born in 1805, the eldest son of a baron who resided at Ockham Park. He was schooled at Eton and Trinity Colleges and then married Ada Byron, the only legitimate daughter of the famous poet. Not only was Ada a celebrated musician and mathematician (credited with being the first computer programmer), she also brought with her a huge dowry. After her death in 1852, Lovelace spent huge sums of money developing his home, Horsley Towers and making improvements to his estate and the surrounding area.

Horsley Towers
Now a wedding venue and hotel, Horsley Towers was built in 1820 by revered architect Charles Barry (who also designed the Houses of Parliament). The Earl of Lovelace was an architecture buff and, taking inspiration from a Grand Tour of Europe which he took after the death of his wife, added embellishments to the house in a variety of styles.